by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Not quite two months after the ordination of 17 members of the first class of permanent deacons, the archdiocese has established an office of the permanent diaconate and appointed a new director.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has appointed Father Gary Pennings, vicar general and moderator of the curia, as director of the new office. It will open its doors in mid-June.
“[I will assume] a series of tasks that had previously been done by Msgr. Gary Applegate as he oversaw our first class of deacons,” said Father Pennings.
“Now that we have deacons and are proceeding with preparing for another class in the not-too-distant future,” he continued, “we need to have an office that manages [the deacon candidates] like we do for the vocations office that manages our seminarians, and a vicar of clergy who manages our priests, and a continuing education office.”
Father Greg Hammes has been appointed associate director. He is the newly appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Sabetha, St. Augustine Parish in Fidelity, and St. James Parish in Wetmore.
Leon Supranant, a consultant for Web content and research in the archdiocesan communications office, will work part time in the deacon office as pastoral associate for administration. He will oversee the day-to-day operations of the office.
“The office will primarily establish policy for the deacons, establish a deacon community council or board that represents the permanent deacons, and allow them to have some formal mechanism to provide input to the archbishop,” said Father Pennings.
The office will oversee continuing education and ongoing formation of deacons, develop a new application process for men who are discerning the vocation of permanent deacon, and prepare for a new deacon class to begin sometime within six months to a year.
One of Father Pennings’ goals is to involve other priests of the archdiocese in the formation of deacon candidates and to produce a brochure and other information to help people understand the diaconate.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll begin to accept new applications sometime in the fall,” said Father Pennings.
In the meantime, the new deacons’ office personnel will meet with Msgr. Applegate and his staff to accomplish a smooth transition.
“Permanent deacons are a great addition to the life of the church, one our archdiocese has not had since the Second Vatican Council, when the permanent diaconate was reinstated,” said Father Pennings.
“So, we’re hopeful the permanent diaconate will bear much fruit in years to come in our archdiocese,” he added.
For information about the permanent diaconate go to the Web site at: www.archkck.org/deacons, or call Father Pennings at (913) 647-0340.